Breast magnetic resonance (MR) imaging may help Mayo Clinic physicians evaluate the extent of a known breast cancer, screen high-risk patients and further evaluate areas of concern found on mammograms and ultrasounds or during physical examinations.
The American Cancer Society recommends breast magnetic resonance imaging screens for women with a 20 percent to 25 percent lifetime risk for breast cancer. Mayo specialists perform more than 1,500 breast MR scans annually.
MR imaging involves the use of magnets and computers to create images of areas inside the body. A computer compiles hundreds of images from each MR scan. Each image shows a thin, horizontal slice of breast tissue.
During breast MR examinations, use of a contrast dye provides detailed images of the breast. MR scans reveal masses, but the technology is sensitive enough to detect increased vascularization (blood vessel formation) that feeds tumors.
A radiologist studies MR images of the breast from many different angles to interpret the results. If a suspicious area is detected, the physician may also recommend an MR-guided breast biopsy.